Melt in the Greenland EastGRIP ice core reveals Holocene warm events

Ilka.Weikusat [ at ]


We present a record of melt events obtained from the East Greenland Ice Core Project (EastGRIP) ice core in central northeastern Greenland, covering the largest part of the Holocene. The data were acquired visually using an optical dark-field line scanner. We detect and describe melt layers and lenses, seen as bubble-free layers and lenses, throughout the ice above the bubble–clathrate transition. This transition is located at 1150 m depth in the EastGRIP ice core, corresponding to an age of 9720 years b2k. We define the brittle zone in the EastGRIP ice core as that from 650 to 950 m depth, where we count on average more than three core breaks per meter. We analyze melt layer thicknesses, correct for ice thinning, and account for missing layers due to core breaks. Our record of melt events shows a large, distinct peak around 1014 years b2k (986 CE) and a broad peak around 7000 years b2k, corresponding to the Holocene Climatic Optimum. In total, we can identify approximately 831 mm of melt (corrected for thinning) over the past 10 000 years. We find that the melt event from 986 CE is most likely a large rain event similar to that from 2012 CE, and that these two events are unprecedented throughout the Holocene. We also compare the most recent 2500 years to a tree ring composite and find an overlap between melt events and tree ring anomalies indicating warm summers. Considering the ice dynamics of the EastGRIP site resulting from the flow of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS), we find that summer temperatures must have been at least 3 ± 0.6 ∘C warmer during the Early Holocene compared to today.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Published online
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/cp-18-1011-2022

Cite as
Westhoff, J. , Sinnl, G. , Svensson, A. , Freitag, J. , Kjær, H. A. , Vallelonga, P. , Vinther, B. M. , Kipfstuhl, S. , Dahl-Jensen, D. and Weikusat, I. (2022): Melt in the Greenland EastGRIP ice core reveals Holocene warm events , Climate of the Past, 18 , pp. 1011-1034 . doi: 10.5194/cp-18-1011-2022

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